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Those familiar with media events may recall that Sinclair Broadcast Group (SBG) sought to repel voters away from Democratic contender John Kerry during his 2004 bid for the presidency. In its most publicized act, Sinclair planned to air the controversial film, "Stolen Honor", two weeks prior to the election so as -- in the words of a Sinclair reporter -- "to sway the election" toward Sinclair's preferred candidate. While there is nothing wrong with a business owner supporting a candidate, the way in which Sinclair did so is, in our view, a breach of ethics and a misuse of the public's airwaves. And the "Stolen Honor" incident is only one example of Sinclair's selfish and crass use of this public resource.

This lengthy report provides information about Sinclair Broadcast Group (SBG), one of the largest owners of television stations in the United States and the leader in consolidating local news programs, cutting staff, and politicizing its stations. This report is annotated with over 20 published reports about Sinclair, listed at the end of this page.

It is divided into three main sections. In the first, background information about SBG is provided. In the second, published reports about Sinclair's pattern of manipulating news, controlling local content, and reducing local news -- across the country -- is provided. In the third section, we focus on more local (Iowa) effects of Sinclair's actions.

The Sinclair story is complex and even occasionally sordid at times. Here, we take on the task of introducing Sinclair and why we consider it on the cutting edge of forces leading our news media down a sad spiral of incivility, unethical "reporting", and divisiveness that tends to only further alienate and disengage citizens. In those respects, Sinclair is doing an impressive job.

To skip to various sections listed in the table below, simply click on the hypertext links and your browser will be sent to the appropriate section of this rather long webpage.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Part I. A brief backgrounder: Sinclair Broadcast Group

Part II. Sinclair's control of the news: National perspectives

 

Part I

A Brief backgrounder: Sinclair Broadcast Group

Sinclair Broadcast Group, a major owner of broadcast television stations, is headquartered in Hunt Valley, Maryland, near Baltimore. With 60 stations, it is among the largest owner of stations and also the largest owner of "duopolies", that is, pairs of stations located in the same market. The company's roots began in 1971, when Julian Sinclair Smith purchased a UHF station in Baltimore. In 1986, Smith's four sons founded Sinclair Broadcast Group (SBG). Headed by David D. Smith, President and CEO, the Smith brothers control over 95% of SBG's stock. According to its website, SBG stations reach 24% of the American viewing households.

Sinclair's stations make up on of the largest network of stations owned by a single corporation. Sinclair also has the most "duopolies" (twin stations in the same market), another way in which diversity is threatened.

In Iowa, Sinclair owns or operates three stations: KGAN and KFXA, both of Cedar Rapids, and KDSM of Des Moines.

SBG owns stations affiliated with ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, UPN, and WB networks. Because these stations have maintained these various affiliations, Sinclair is a little different than the other "fair and balanced" network. It maintains a lower profile, so much so that viewers may be unaware that their local station is not a CBS affiliate in the traditional sense, but one tightly managed by Sinclai. That's the case with KGAN, Channel 2, of Cedar Rapids, which has been owned by Sinclair since July of 1999. Loyal viewers of Channel 2 have seen significant changes in KGAN's programming that have also been observed in other Sinclair stations.

In Sinclair's own words, a key to their business plan is to become "a major consolidator in the industry" and they have done this in some imaginative ways. In 1991, SBG came up with the "Local Marketing Agreement" in which they can control a second station in the same market without claiming outright ownership. In this way, Sinclair became the largest owner of "duopolies", by using a loophole in FCC rules meant to prevent duopolies. Sinclair has been challenged by various groups for this questionable practice, a practice SBG calls "visionary".

In his interview with Rolling Stone magazine, David Smith reportedly comes across as very self-assured and outspoken, although reporters have noted that he prefers to maintain a low public profile. Perhaps this is understandable, as not all of his past activities would place him in the ranks of the most respectful conservative civic leader. We elaborate on this a separate page, but note that that report is tawdry in nature and may be objectionable to some readers.

 

Part II

Sinclair's control of the news: National perspectives

The second part of this report reviews several articles either published in print or web sites that covered issues related to the centralization of news operations by Sinclair Broadcast Group (SBG). At the end of this page, the various sources cited in the report are listed under "References" .

II A. Sinclair's Stolen Honor

II A. 1. Calling political advocacy "news"

Like their philosophical brethren at Fox Television, Sinclair has been very aggressive in promoting its political views on television. However, Sinclair is a bit different in that they use the public's broadcast airwaves to do so. Perhaps their most well-known act was their plan to air "Stolen Honor: Wounds that Never Heal" two weeks prior to the 2004 presidential election. This film was also promoted by the anti-Kerry group "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" in an effort to negatively influence Senator Kerry's campaign.

While the Fairness Doctrine was no longer in effect (see the FCC deregulation timeline), the FCC's Equal Time provision was. This rule stipulates that, during election campaigns, candidates of opposing parties must be given equal time on the air to prevent bias toward one candidate. In its desire to promote their Republican candidate, Sinclair simply claimed that "Stolen Honor" was news and therefore not subject to the FCC's Equal Time provisions. Although a large amount of public outcry of this tactic ensued, Michael Powell, then head of the FCC, told CNN, "Don't look to us to block the airing of a program".

Not only did the Kerry campaign object, but so did the public. As reported by Salon and Rolling Stone, media-reform groups organized boycotts of SBG advertisers. Not only that, the company's stock fell more than 15% and lost over $100 million within a 10 day period. Institutional investors threatened to sue Sinclair for putting politics before profits. Sinclair backed down, most likely because of the depressed stock prices than for any newfound sense of journalistic ethics.

"Why is it important that Sinclair Broadcasting be urged in all lawful ways that can be imagined to reconsider its decision to broadcast on its television stations the anti-Kerry 'documentary'?

Because in a large, pluralistic information society democracy will not work unless electronic media distribute reasonably accurate information and also competing opinions about political candidates to the entire population."

Former FCC Commissioner Reed Hundt (13 Oct 2004, in "Sinclair Ought to Know Better - And So Should the FCC", the Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

 

II. A. 2. Firing a reporter with recognized journalistic integrity

Insider reports at Sinclair have painted a picture of tension within Sinclair's news organization. Jon Leiberman, the Washington Bureau chief for Sinclair news, objected to what he saw was his company's misuse of the public's airwaves. On Sunday, October 17, 2004, during a mandatory meeting for all Sinclair's "News Central" staff, Leiberman announced his opposition to the broadcast of Stolen Honor. Leiberman was quoted as stating to his colleagues that "Each and every one of us is going to lose our credibility if we lend our voices and our writing and our faces to this product that clearly isn't news." He continued: "It's propaganda. It's meant to sway the election -- we've been told that by people inside the company." (more on the movie Stolen Honor is available from Salon.com here.)

Sinclair fired Leiberman the day after he went public with his complaint.

Later, Leiberman was awarded a special Payne Award for ethics in journalism by the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communications. Sinclair CEO Smith publicly objected and urged that the Payne award be withdrawn because Leiberman had signed a 'gag order' that forbade him from talking with the press while an employee of SBG. Upon receiving Smith's letter, the Payne Award selection committee reconvened and responded. It stated that Leiberman's concern for journalistic ethics trumped any concern about a breech of a corporate confidentiality agreement. The selection committee wrote back to Smith, stating they did not agree with Smith and that they would not revoke the award.

Sinclair has continued to pursue Mr. Leiberman. In October 2005, Sinclair filed suit in Baltimore County Circuit Court against Leiberman, claiming $16,640 in so-called "liquidated damages", equal to a percentage of his salary had he served out his contract.

"Fox proved one thing: People like controversy.

I'd do one of those Stolen Honor specials every month if we could.

The lesson was very straightforward: That we can do this kind of content, pre-empt the networks and make more money."

Sinclair CEO David Smith, as reported by Rolling Stone, 24 Feb 2005

 

II. B. Sinclair reduces news staffs and local programming

Reports show that Sinclair Broadcast Group has, on multiple occasions, reduced the size of local television news staffs and/or local programming across its network.

In January 2002, the media and entertainment trade magazine, Variety, published an on-line report entitled "No more film at 11 as stations cut back". It noted a relatively new trend in which local news programs were cut from stations' broadcast schedules. It reported three stations that eliminated local news: KDNL (St. Louis), WXLV (Winston-Salem, NC), and WEVV (Evansville, IN). Two of the three (KDNL and WXLV) were controlled by SBG. Sinclair's cuts resulted in the loss of 47 and 35 jobs, respectively, according to Variety.

An October 2004 story by Salon.com reported additional Sinclair cuts at stations they acquired. One noted incident occurred at SBG's station in Rochester, N.Y. Sinclair reportedly dismissed "the entire news, weather and sports anchor team, and half of the remaining staff." Salon also reported that Variety detailed how CEO David Smith personally:

"assembled station employees in the company parking lot, climbed onto the hood of a car, read a list of names, and announced that those on the list were fired."

Perhaps not as dramatic, but just as relevant to concerns about local reporting and community-affairs programming, is an SBG-induced change at another station. According to Salon, after SBG took control of WCWB in Pittsburg, it eliminated three public affairs programs and replaced them with program-length commercials.

Downward trends in staffing and programming have also occurred at KGAN, an eastern Iowa Sinclair station, as is detailed in the second part of this document.


II. C. News Centralization and its debilitating effects

In 2002, Sinclair launched a new approach to local television news programming - one in which the local news segments delivered by local TV staff are seamlessly blended in with non-local content delivered by personnel at an SBG set in Maryland. Sinclair calls the non-local part of this hybrid program "News Central". According to SBG's corporate website (http://www.sbgi.net/business/news.shtml), the News Central approach is a "revolutionary news model" that provides "local news in programming in markets that otherwise could not support news." As reported by The Business Journal ("Background Report: Sinclair Foreshadows the Death of Local News") the "News Central" format was, in its earlier days, implemented in five cities: Minneapolis, Oklahoma City, Raleigh (NC), Rochester (NY), and Flint (MI).

While SBG states that News Central was applied to markets that "otherwise could not support news", it should be noted that this is rationale is debatable. Four of the five aforementioned metropolitan areas have populations of at least 1 million (according to Encyclopedia Britannica, 2005 version). Furthermore, all five cities are ranked in the top 40% of the 210 Designated Market Areas (DMA) listed by Nielsen Media in the fall of 2005. All five also rank above the Cedar Rapids DMA, which is served by multiple broadcast television news programs. It is difficult to see how Minneapolis, Oklahoma City, or Raleigh are markets that cannot support local news.

Blending centralized news with local news into a single program has several possible debilitating effects to the welfare of local viewers. They are discussed below.


II. C. 1. Confusing the viewer as to the content provider

As has been reported by multiple sources, the news set at Sinclair's "News Central" studio and the news sets at the local stations have been designed to appear as being part of the same set. One result is that at least some viewers of these hybrid programs are confused. A May 5th, 2005 report by the Cincinnati Enquirer noted that Ms. Kim Moening, the sole on-air person in the studio at SBG's Cincinnati station, related how "Some viewers actually think all 'News Central' anchors work at Channel 64". Even Morris Jones, one of SBG's "News Central" anchors, acknowledges viewer confusion:

"They think I'm in Flint or they're happy to see me back on the air, and they're assuming that I'm there. They may think I'm on the air in Las Vegas or somebody may think that I've just moved to Pittsburgh, but I certainly write them back and say, 'Well, I'm glad the concept is working.' It's a seamless newscast."
- Morris, as quoted on PBS "News Hour", Dec. 11th, 2003

This blurring of the local / corporate boundary within SBG's hybrid news program is aided by across-anchor (and across-country) "banter". As reported by The Business Journal, News Central reporters are coached as to how to seamlessly make the transition from non-local to local. Specifically, the article reported about the "hand-offs" between the News Central weather reporter and the anchor at the local station:

"Or the weatherman, safely removed from the thunderstorms in, say, Minneapolis, will often engage in scripted banter with the local anchor to maintain the pretense: 'Should I bring an umbrella tomorrow, Don?' 'You bet, Hal, it looks pretty ugly out there...' "
- excerpt from www.business-journal.com report of April 30th, 2004.

These reports suggest that the ambiguous origins of SBG's hybrid news program is intentional. As noted in an article by the trade website, TVTechnology, "Although the national news, sports and weather will originate from the Sinclair headquarters and the local segments will be done locally, the viewer will see similar graphics and visual designs to give the impression of a single news source." TVTechnology quoted SBG's Corporate News Director, Joe Defeo: "It's seamless - the music, the graphics, the look - it all matches what we're doing."

This practice has been labeled as deceptive by Marty Haag, the well-respected veteran Texan broadcaster, Broadcast Executive-in-Residence at Southern Methodist University, and winner of a George Foster Peabody Award for personal achievement:

"I think that it's deceptive, period, simply, purely deceptive. The idea is that, I think, in order for journalists at a time where they're probably questioned more about why they did certain stories and how they arrived at a certain treatment, et cetera, et cetera, should be transparent and this broadcast certainly is not."
- Haag, as quoted in the News Hour ("Central Casting". Dec 11th, 2003)


II. C. 2. Less news coverage of local events and issues

As noted above, SBG has sharply cut the local news staff of, at least, some of its stations. As was noted in the December 11th, 2003 "News Hour" program, there is doubt as to how well SBG stations can cover local events with "typically half the staff" of non-SBG stations that cover local news.

"We're in the center. Ninety-nine-point-nine percent of the media is left of center."

"There are two companies doing truly balanced news today: Sinclair and Fox."

David Smith, CEO and President, Sinclair Broadcast Group (as reported by Rolling Stone)

II. C. 3. Inaccurate reporting

SBG stations required to assume the "News Central" format have their weather information and forecasts reported by the SBG staffer in Maryland. As Ms. Moening (of SBG's Cincinnati affiliate) noted in the Cincinnati Enquirer report, the News Central weather reporter "has the same equipment as Channels 5, 9, 12 and 19. The only difference is that he can't look out the window to see what's going on." Even News Central meteorologist, Vytas Reid, acknowledged this basic deficiency of the "News Central" approach:

"Of course, I can't look out my window like a good meteorologist should to make sure the forecast is correct, 'Well, yes, it is snowing about there.'"
- Reid, as quoted on the News Hour (Dec 11th, 2003)

From a December, 2005 article in GQ magazine, this loss of truly local reporting has indeed caused problems. Quoting a former SBG producer , it noted:

"There have been some hilarious mistakes. Tornadoes blow through local areas and Sinclair is using reports from the National Weather Service talking about the sunshine."

These reports of inaccurate reporting suggest that public safety could be compromised by the "News Central" approach to weather reporting.


II. C. 4. Loss of local control and local perspective

A fourth, and perhaps the most serious, concern is the loss of local control over the selection of national stories, features, and opinions. As the well-respected broadcast veteran, Marty Haag, has noted:

"That tie between a local news operation and its audience is an essential tie that I think is certainly diminished, if not obliterated, by the News Central concept.
It's very hard to say that we are a local news operation when you have people in Baltimore, for example, deciding what national stories you are going to use in your broadcast."

- Haag, as quoted on the News Hour (Dec 11th, 2003)

 

II. C. 5. A look at News Central content

This can result in selection of the news that favors SBG interests over local interests. As part of his "Central Casting" News Hour report, Terence Smith listed the reports broadcast by "News Central" during a 10 p.m. television broadcast that he monitored:

1. (lead story): "about young women taking a stand on gay rights by kissing in school"
2. "a spat between Britney Spears and the first lady of Maryland."
3. "a story from Maine about a woman refusing to pay her taxes"
4. "a filibuster in the U.S. Senate"
5. "a judicial nomination controversy"
6. "the [Washington D.C.] sniper trial"
7. "a Scott Peterson court update"
8. "a report about terrorism Web sites"
9. "the results of the previous night's unscientific, quick poll of viewers' attitudes on Iraq."

Terence Smith also noted that, "There was no news reporting on Iraq during that evening's broadcast."

Although this report is unable to establish whether there should have been reporting about Iraq that night, there are unusual aspects to this list of news reports. It seems unlikely (to this writer) that a well-regarded national news organization would lead with a story about high school women kissing in a school unless it was part of some high-profile national debate. Also, it is not clear to what degree viewers in say, Las Vegas or Flint, would have an interest in a story about a spat between Britney Spears and the wife of the governor of Maryland (the home state of "News Central"). The national newsworthiness of a New England woman refusing to pay taxes is also unclear. Finally, the inclusion of an unscientific poll about "attitudes on Iraq" is somewhat troubling, not only because the poll was not adequately controlled for bias, but also because of widely reported prior incidents in which SBG has used its stations in controversial ways to support particular political positions.

Indeed, several reports have noted that SBG manipulates the news that is aired on its stations. Jon Leiberman, the former Washington Bureau Chief for SBG's News Central, has recounted his story of how SBG CEO David Smith pressured him to present the news according to the biases of Sinclair executives. The following excerpt is from the recent article in GQ magazine:

"David came to the newsroom every day," says Leiberman, a two-time Bush voter who was fired last October when he spoke against the company's partisan airing of the anti-Kerry documentary. "I went into a meeting with David Smith about a month and a half before I left. David said, 'Your stories need to look more like Mark's editorials.'"

The "Mark" referred to in the GQ article is Sinclair Vice President Mark Hyman, best known for his aforementioned nightly editorials aired in "The Point" segment that is included on the local news programs of SBG stations.

Former Sinclair employees have reported similar dictums from top SBG management. In an article published by Rolling Stone magazine, an ex-producer was quoted as saying he was ordered not to report "any bad news out of Iraq -- no dead servicemen, no reports on how much we're spending, nothing." On February 18th, 2004, the Baltimore Sun reported that Sinclair's news department began airing a series of reports from Iraq that were to focus on positive reports rather than the typical reporting of other networks that SBG considered to be negative. However, a producer sent to Iraq as part of this effort told Rolling Stone:

"'You weren't reporting news', says the producer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. 'You were reporting a political agenda that came down to you from the top of the food chain.'"
- excerpt from "Beyond 'Fair and Balanced', Rolling Stone, Feb 24, 2005.

In the GQ article, a Sinclair producer was quoted as saying: "I was told on at least one occasion, 'Don't do Iraq unless it's good news.'"

An article by the Illinois Times also reported how SBG would select news reports to reflect its interests. Referring to its interview with former SBG Washington Bureau Chief Leiberman, the report noted:

"Company priorities were evident, he says, in the fact that he and a crew were sent to New York to interview Stolen Honor author John O'Neil the day before the book's release - resulting in three broadcast stories - yet Sinclair didn't mention abuses at Abu Ghraib until two weeks after the story broke elsewhere."
- excerpt from "Puppet Masters" by Paul Schmelzer, Illinois Times (March 10, 2005)

Sinclair is relatively well known among media watchers for requiring its stations to air "The Point", the commentary of SBG Vice President Mark Hyman that is inserted into the local news programs of SBG stations. Hyman often espouses political or social beliefs that are not necessarily those of the local broadcast staff or the viewing public. In preparing this report, no other television network was found that requires the views of its corporate owners to be aired during the local news program of their stations. Perhaps station owners have a legal right to air such opinions, it is not at all clear how the "public interest" of the viewers is served when contrary local opinions are not given a meaningful voice on SBG stations.

It has been reported that SBG not only requires its stations to air the corporate opinion segment during the local news, but has also required news anchors to read a statement in support of the Bush administration. As reported by the Baltimore Sun on November 3, 2005, Sinclair required loyalty statements to be read by its local news broadcasters:

"After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, executives ordered news anchors at its local stations to run editorials announcing support for the Bush administration's response to the attacks."

As reported by the trade journal "Broadcasting and Cable" (24 Sept 2001) and Salon (Oct. 14, 2004), Sinclair required newscasters to air the following:

"We stand 100 percent behind the President in his vow that terrorism must be stopped."

As reported in Salon.com, this edict caused consternation within Sinclair station newsrooms for its lack of journalistic objectivity. Anchors felt they were put in a "no-win" situation: After all, how could one not support the President at that time? Yet reciting such a statement clearly violated the journalistic standard of objectivity and independence from the government.

Other examples of corporate-centered use of the broadcast airwaves can be found in published reports. For example, the Illinois Times article details how SBG's flagship station, WBFF, reported on pollution of a river at a point 160 miles distant from the station, reportedly because of personal interests of SBG executives who owned land near the pollution site (see "Puppet Masters", Illinois Times, March 10, 2005).

 


II. C. 6. Controlling non-Sinclair content: Preempting "The Fallen"

While Sinclair was anxious to smear Senator Kerry by promoting a spurious story that Kerry killed a retreating Vietnamese, they were less interested in honoring American soldiers who were killed in the Iraq war. This occurred in another well-publicized incident that illustrated the loss of local control by Sinclair stations. On April 30th, 2004, SBG forbade its ABC affiliates from airing an ABC "Nightline" tribute to the service men and women killed in the Iraq war.

The ABC network announced that they would air a special edition of their Nightline news program on 30 April 2004 to honor the U.S. service personnel who had died in the Iraq war. The name of soldier would be read on the air. Sinclair found this to be offensive and told its eight ABC stations not to air the program. They perceived this program to be anti-Bush propaganda and said as much. Barry Faber, lead counsel for Sinclair stated "We find it to be contrary to public interest".

Curiously, Sinclair did not find it offensive when ABC aired a similar program in which the names and images of all those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001 were presented on the first anniversary of that event.

We present several letters that document the thoughts of Sinclair and agents with contrary opinions.

According to news sources such as CNN, the public response to Sinclair's action was again negative. Sinclair's action did not escape Senator John McCain, himself a decorated war hero. He found Sinclair's actions "misguided", "deeply offensive", and "unpatriotic". We include correspondence from Sinclair, ABC News, and Senator McCain that explain their points of view.

SBG's Mark Hyman proclaimed that the Nightline tribute "was not in the public interest" and that "For us to trivialize their deaths, for those who served, for some other purpose doesn't make any sense to us whatsoever" ("News Hour" April 30th, 2004). SBG also stated:

"Before you judge our decision, however, we would ask that you first question Mr. Koppel as to why he chose to read the names of 523 troops killed in combat in Iraq, rather than the names of the thousands of private citizens killed in terrorist attacks since and including the events of September 11, 2001. In his answer, we believe you will find the real motivation behind his action scheduled for this Friday." (SBG Statement on The Fallen)

This statement, with implied accusations, was made despite the fact that the ABC had indeed read all the names of the 9-11 victims on the one-year anniversary of that tragic event. Sinclair chose to ignore this inconvenient fact (see ABC News' Statement, below, on Sinclair's decision to pre-empt "The Fallen").

Click on the panels to read the correspondence between ABC, Sinclair, and Senator McCain on Sinclair's order not to air "The Fallen

Comment

As a public trustee, SBG should allow its viewers - citizens of this country -- to make their own decisions about the merits of the Nightline tribute, rather than question the patriotism of ABC, Ted Koppel, and forbid viewers from even seeing the program. It is difficult to see how this central control serves the public interest. One would think that conservative-leaning individuals would espouse "local control" over control by a central authority, as is often their desire when it comes to regulation by elected officials of the People.

II. D. The Point

II. D. 1. Introduction: A daily abuse of our airwaves

All of the television stations owned by SBG are required to air "The Point", a 1-2 minute commentary, produced by SBG Vice President Mark Hyman, during their local news broadcasts. These daily commentaries are produced in SBG headquarters in Maryland and beamed to all SBG-owned stations.

This is a rather unusual arrangement: the insertion of corporate opinions during ocal news programs. Although Sinclair generously describes The Point as a means of "stimulating public discourse", in Sinclair's hands, that discourse is very much a one-way affair. Although SBG claims that it allows contrary views to be aired along with Hyman's, that is a highly deceptive description, as will be described below. The Point is virtually a one-sided screed against perceived enemies and does not provide a meaningful debate, at least not on the public's airwaves.

Perhaps, ironically, The Point has indeed stimulated public discourse: It is doubtful that IBLTV would have been formed and energized without the actions of Sinclair's Mark Hyman. IBLTV certainly has gotten involved.

"The Point is a one-minute daily commentary that is intended to stimulate public discourse. The Point encourages viewer feedback, and every Saturday we air select viewer comments, both positive and negative. In an age of homogenized, bland, politically correct news, we are proud to deliver news and commentary that stimulates critical thinking and encourages viewers to get involved."

Sinclair's description of The Point

Mark Hyman

(Vice President, Sinclair Broadcast Group)

According to Salon.com, The Point began appearing on Sinclair stations shortly after the September 11th, 2001 bombings, limited at first to the stations fed their news by Sinclair's "News Central" opertation, to eventually, all 62 of their stations. All local stations must reserve 1-2 minutes of its local news half-hour to accommodate Sinclair's opinions. As IBLTV has informed the FCC, with 11-12 minutes of each local half-hour news broadcast consumed by commercials, and at least 10 more minutes devoted to non-news features, this intrusion into the local news significantly cuts into the small amount of time each station actually devotes to local news and events.

It should be noted that SBG also beams other Sinclair-opinion pieces to its local stations. For example, another segment called "Get This", calls viewers' attention to news items or incidents that Sinclair believes deserves specific ridicule or opprobrium. As with The Point, KGAN-TV also carries "Get This" on a daily basis.

During Sinclair's "The Point" segment, Mark Hyman provides a commentary that is slanted to the far right. As has been documented by various sources (MediaMatters, Salon, TheCounterPoint, RollingStone, etc.) the content of Hyman's lectures are highly critical and uncivil toward views different than those of Sinclair's. Thus, the French, who opposed President Bush's War on Iraq are labeled "cheese-eating surrender monkeys", war critics are "whack-jobs", Democrats critical of President Bush are "unpatriotic politicians who hate our military" and those with views to the left of Sinclair are habitually called "the Angry Left" or the "hate-America crowd".

As in the case of Sinclair's News Central downloads, there is no effort to make it clear that Mr. Hyman's lecture is not just another segment of the local news. In fact, several Iowans have commented to IBLTV that they were wondered about this segment, thinking that it originated at KGAN. Such confusion as to the origin of Sinclair material included in local news programming has also been cited in published reports.

Sinclair's stated purpose of The Point, is to "stimulate public discourse" and "critical thinking". Given the large number of falsehoods, distortions, and smears uttered by Mr. Hyman on The Point (see The Counter Point or Media Matters for documentation), it is difficult to believe that "critical thinking" can lead many to agree with Hyman's Point. Also, Mr. Hyman unfortunately has a reliable tendency to brand his political opponents as part of the "hate America crowd"; so it is also difficult to see how any sense of civility or fairness is promoted.

No meaningful opportunity for differing or opposing viewpoints

Sinclair claims that The Point provides for a back-and-forth exchange of ideas and that it welcomes alternative points of view. They may encourage viewers to send their opinions via email, but The Point is not a forum for the exchange of ideas; it is a one-way lecture.

Sinclair claims that the "Mailbag" segment of The Point provides this exchange with its viewers. But quite simply, this is not true for the following reasons. First, the Mailbag occurs on Saturdays, when viewership of local news is at its lowest of the week. Second, opposing views are seldom, if ever, ever fully stated. Instead, Mr. Hyman himself selects snippets of the presumed comments of a few viewers (the viewers are never identified by last name or address). Opposing views are not given full expression, but are framed by Hyman to fit his agenda. That is, it is typical for him to choose several "atta boy" comments that amplify his views and adding no substance. Meanwhile, he'll include a few comments from "the Angry left", but in a way that fails to advance any conversation. Indeed, Hyman often cannot refrain from adding a belittling or uncivil statement to the selected phrases that are supposedly from those America haters. Again, this may increase the blood pressure of viewers, but it is difficult to see how it stimulates public discourse. Finally, providing such a limited venue for the limited and selected phrases of viewers from across the country can only be considered "fair and balanced" in the Fox use of that phrase.

 

II. D. 2. The Point as a political weapon

Two weeks of anti-Kerry smears. If Sinclair is known to the general public for its use of its stations to trash John Kerry, it is because of its widely criticized attempt o air "Stolen Honor" two weeks prior to the 2004 Presidential Election. However, Sinclair also used its nightly airing of The Point to do the same job. In the last weeks leading up to the 2004 Presidential election, Sinclair used The Pointto present a series of segments highly critical of Democratic candidate Kerry. The titles of these opinion pieces, aired in mid-late September, reveal their bias:

Titles of The Point aired over an 11 day period before the 2004 Presidential Election
"Kerry & The Killing" 9/13/04
"Kerry & The Three Weeks of Protest" 9/16/04
"Kerry & The Medals" 9/21/04
"Kerry & The Purple Heart" 9/14/04
"Kerry & The Navy" 9/19/04
"Kerry & The Communists" 9/22/04
"Kerry & The Winter Soldier Investigation" 9/15/04
"Kerry & The Oath" 9/20/04
"Kerry & The Numbers" 9/23/04

While the Navy's official record states that John Kerry earned the Silver Star award for

"...extraordinary daring and personal courage ... in attacking a numerically superior force in the face of intense fire",

Mr. Hyman accused Kerry of being guilty of "killing a Vietnamese man" (13 Sept 2004 edition of The Point) and that he killed a "wounded man as he retreated from battle." (25 Oct 2004 edition). As Media Matters For America has documented, Hyman's accusations are false, yet they were aired on the 62 SBG stations on "The Point" just before the presidential election. Mr. Hyman and Sinclair, oblivious to all else in their desire to smear Kerry, somehow never considered the damage they were inflicting on all veterans by calling into question the officially reported bravery of those who served their country. One must conclude that patriotism and respect for our fighting men and women is a rather flexible concept, to be bent when self-interest is a concern.

 

II. D. 3. Sinclair forces local stations to attack local viewers

For Iowans, perhaps the most egregious example of SBG's use of its network for personal reasons occurred on February 16th, 2005, when Mark Hyman used his SBG-required commentary ("The Point") to attack a University of Iowa professor. Although this story is told elsewhere, it should be included in this report. Briefly, Hyman devoted that day's edition of The Point to disparage four university professors, including Ted Remington of the University of Iowa. IHyman prefaced his specific charges by saying:

"Some of the brightest minds in America are in academia. Unfortunately, higher education is also home to those who can't hold a job in the real world. Otherwise unemployable individuals are paid to proselytize intellectually bankrupt viewpoints."
- Introductory excerpt from The Point, Feb. 16th, 2005.

Hyman then accused Remington of proclaiming that academic plagiarism "doesn't really hurt anybody"

Concluding his commentary, Hyman said:

"Fringe thinkers such as Churchill, Remington and Ball have a First Amendment right to voice their opinions. They just don't have a right to make a living off it at taxpayers' expense. And they shouldn't. And that's the point."

The problem with Hyman's criticism is that his accusations against Remington were completely spurious. Remington played no part in crafting the plagiarism policy that Hyman quoted. That policy appeared on the same departmental website as Ted Remington's name; Hyman and SBG apparently failed to perform simple "fact checking". Neither did they contact Remington about their accusations prior to airing them across the nation.

Why did Hyman attack Remington on Sinclair's network of stations? It seems unlikely that the reason had anything to do with the contrived connection between Remington and plagiarism policies. It is more likely due to the fact that Remington authored a weblog called "The Counterpoint", which sought to refute Hyman's statements. Indeed, Sinclair executives were more intimately aware of Remington's actual activities than was indicated by Hyman's attack, as SBG executives and Remington had communicated with each other on multiple occasions prior to the attack (this information was obtained from a personal interview with Ted Remington).

More than two weeks later, Hyman offered the following retraction on his Saturday "Mailbag" segment:

"Ted Remington of Iowa University emailed that the citation regarding plagiarism attributed to him was not his policy, but was instead included in the notes for the course he teaches. He emailed, 'I am currently teaching that course, but I had no hand in the preparation of any of the materials for it. It was put together by a group of senior department faculty. I deserve neither credit [n]or blame for it.' We regret the error."

Interestingly, SBG removed in a highly specific way, the transcript and video of the February 16th edition of "The Point", as has been reported by Media Matters for America (see "Deceitful episode of 'The Point' vanished from Sinclair's website", by Mediamatters.org, as listed below).

While SBG's retraction revealed the erroneous plagiarism accusation, it did not explain to the public the prior relationship between SBG and Remington or explicitly retract Hyman's negative characterization of him.

This leaves one to wonder why Professor Michael Ball of the University of Wisconsin - Superior, was also assailed by Hyman on the same February 16, 2005, broadcast. Unlike Remington, Ball had had no known prior contact with Hyman or Sinclair (personal communication with Ball), although it may be relevant that Ball had taught courses on hate groups and right-wing extremism, information available to Hyman and SBG from the Internet. As Media Matters for America has documented (see "Hyman smeared university professors, including one who regularly refutes 'The Point'", by Mediamatters.org, as listed below), Ball never said what Hyman claimed, that Christianity was "the common thread of hate groups". Even though Mediamatters.com had posted this information, SBG has never retracted its negative characterization of Dr. Ball's alleged anti-Christian attitudes.


Comment

The incident brightly illuminates one of the problems with local broadcast television as practiced by the Sinclair model. Inaccuracies, some of them with highly questionable or possibly malicious intent, are aired on many local stations without any apparent oversight or fact-checking by the local stations. Such attacks, in the opinion of the author, obviously run counter to the expectation of local viewers; that is, one would not expect a Cedar Rapids station to attack an Iowa Citian with such inaccuracy or lack of concern for balance or equal time. Under the format established by SBG, Remington had no means of fully rebutting Hyman's charges or have equal time to pronounce his views on a forum comparable to Hyman's. The notion of community-based local television that serves the "public interest" clearly did not work, either in the case of Remington or Ball.

Perhaps The Point is the best example of how, in our view, Sinclair Broadcast Corporation abuses its use of the public airwaves. The direction that Sinclair is taking our country is only toward more incivility, intolerance, and an increasing inability to appreciate other views. There is too much unnecessary division in this country and that division is crippling our ability to get things done.

II. E. Sinclair's systematic increase in central control

Sinclair's effort to impose the "News Central" format has grown from its first start late in 2002. In December of 2002, TVTechnology.com reported that the News Central approach was applied first only to one station, WSMH in Flint, Michigan. By April, 2004, it was applied to five SBG stations (source: Business Journal). By May of 2005, SBG applied the News Central model to fourteen of its stations, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.

As several sources have noted, SBG intention was to spread the News Central approach to many, if not all, of its stations. By December of 2003, the format was imposed on SBG stations on at least 10 stations. In the TVTechnology report, Joe DeFeo, SBG's corporate news director, noted that the News Central format would be expanded to more stations. "All the stations, in some form or fashion, will be part of this."

Even stations without the News Central format are required to promote the views of SBG headquarters through other "must carry" videos. In addition to the opinion segment called "The Point", Sinclair also has other centrally produced segments called "Get This" and "Truth, Lies and Red Tape," both of which have been reported to be skewed to the right-leaning philosophy of Sinclair's executives. The left-leaning advocacy group "Media Matters for America" reviewed the contents of "Get This" during the month of November, 2004 and reported a bias toward right-leaning perspectives. This analysis can be seen at their website (http://mediamatters.org/items/200411180001)

Finally, a few points about the status of the local news at KGAN (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) relative to the above "national perspectives" report. As of this writing, SBG has not converted KGAN to its "News Central" format, although it has reduced the news staff size over time and has cut back on the number of local news broadcasts. Finally, IBLTV members have observed both "The Point" and "Get This" segments that are produced by SBG on the KGAN local news broadcasts. These actions are described in the second part of this report.


II. F. Serious and widespread concern

As has been widely noted, Sinclair Broadcast Group exists in its current form as a result of media deregulation. Deregulation is often proclaimed by its advocates as the best means of increasing quality and diversity of opinion in the broadcast media. However, the evidence provided here suggests just the opposite. In the case of Sinclair Broadcast Group, the limited government regulation of content and fairness of the previous generation has been replaced by corporate regulation and central control of local stations. Given the documented cases in which Sinclair has been perceived to act in its corporate interests over those of its viewers, it is difficult for this writer to see how deregulation serves the public. There is also irony in the fact that political conservatives (with whom Sinclair is often associated) have long advocated against the centralized control of power.

Oddly enough, this era of deregulation, which has eliminated the Fairness Doctrine, can be seen as actually creating a loss of free-market leverage espoused by deregulators. That is, deregulation has allowed stations and networks to champion only one set of opinions, no longer requiring them to air a diversity of opinions. With the rise of such networks with widely perceived political slants (such as Sinclair and Fox), it is less likely for their viewers to be exposed to a wide range of ideas. It is the opinion of this writer that this only impoverishes those viewers and makes them equipped to make informed decisions about their governance. Thus, the presumed value of diversity - providing information from multiple viewpoints - is lost among television viewers that, according to the Pew Research Center, have become more and more polarized (see "More voices, less credibility"; Pew Research Center).

The problem here is that there is a large difference between deregulation of an industry and the abolishment of broadcast rules that were designed to maintain fairness and balance. The former may spur diversity and competition, but the latter has resulted in a system that serves only the interests of the station owners and poorly informs the nation. As Jefferson has noted, a poorly informed public does not bode well for a the survival of a democracy.

Critics of the negative and troubling trends in broadcast media that have resulted from deregulation include conservative columnist William Safire ("On Media Giantism" January, 20, 2003), media mogul Ted Turner ("My Beef with Big Media", The Washington Monthly, Jul/Aug 2004), and the business journals whose critical reports have been cited above. Even leaders such as Senator Trent Lott, who is generally supportive of deregulation, has voiced concern about its ill effects on broadcast media. Furthermore, the public has reported a declining opinion about the quality and credibility of the broadcast news ("More Voices, Less Credibility" Pew Research Center, January 2005), all during a sustained period of media deregulation.

Given the 25-year course of media deregulation and the documented problems that have attended it, it seems not longer necessary to blindly assume the effectiveness of "free market reforms" of the broadcast media. The state of today's media suggest otherwise.

 

Part III

Sinclair's control of the news: A local perspective


Part I of this report demonstrated some trends that have been reported regarding the operation of television stations owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group (SBG). These trends included reduction of local news staff, the centralized control of news programming, and reporting biased toward the preferences of SBG executives, even when the stories had questionable relevance to the local viewing public.

The following section focuses on the SBG station in Cedar Rapids, KGAN-TV and its use of its local news reporting staff. The personnel lists of four Iowa television stations were surveyed, primarily using the information provided on each station's website. Three stations (KGAN, KFXA, and KDSM) were owned by SBG or had an operating agreement with SBG. A fourth station, KCRG, based in Cedar Rapids, is Iowa's last locally owned and operated broadcast television station. The personnel rosters were examined to compare staff sizes and the stability of the work forces across time.

What follows is a series of observations that are consistent with the trends reviewed in Part 1 of this report. Although KGAN has not yet implemented the "News Central" format that SBG has applied elsewhere, it has demonstrated a reduction in its commitment to local news, as assessed by news staff sizes, staff volatility, and the time devoted to local news programs.


III. A. Staff reductions at KGAN

At four points in time, KGAN's publicly posted roster of news personnel was recorded from the list provided on the "Our Team" page of their website (see KGAN's webpage at: http://www.kgan.com/kgan/team.shtml). This page was monitored on April 28th, July 16th, October 5th, and November 13th of 2005. The news personnel for KGAN over these times are listed in the top row of Table 1 (below). News personnel for KCRG are also listed in Table 1 for two of those times (July 16th and November 13th). As in the case with KGAN, the KCRG news staff lists were obtained from their website (see http://www.kcrg.com/bio_list.aspx?cat_id=199).

Over the 6 ½ month period for which website data were collected for KGAN, that station reduced its news staff size twice, from 14 in April down to a final number of 12 in November of the same year.

While the data in Table 1 has less information about KCRG's staff across time, the data that was available for this survey indicates that KCRG increased its news staff from 20 to 21 over the period from July 16th to November 13th.


III. B. Smaller news staffs at Iowa's Sinclair stations

KGAN's staff reductions are perhaps best considered by contrasting its staffing commitments with those of KCRG, the other VHS station based in Cedar Rapids. During a period (from July 16th to November 13th) over which KGAN reduced its on-air staff by one person, from 14 to 13, KCRG actually increased its on-air personnel strength from 20 to 21.

While news staff size is not the only indicator of the strength of a news operation, it certainly is reflective of the ability to cover the events within a geographical region. This is particularly relevant to the eastern Iowa region, where several small to mid-sized cities (i.e., Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Dubuque, Waterloo, and Cedar Falls) are distributed across a relatively wide area and are served by relatively few stations. For example, in the case of KCRG, their news staff listing includes two members (Steve Nicoles and Katie Wiedemann) that are specifically assigned to reporting beats in Iowa City and Dubuque (respectively), two cities that are home to no local stations. It cannot be determined from KGAN's website whether or not it dedicates any specific personnel to these cities, although its ability to do so would likely be diminished by its relatively small staff. A quick perusal of the personnel lists of Table 1 reveals that the Sinclair stations have, relative to KCRG, significantly smaller news staffs.

As of July 16, the size of the KGAN on-air news staff - thirteen -- was 65% of the size of KCRG's twenty-person staff. By November 13th, that disparity became greater, with KGAN's staff size (twelve) amounting to only 57% of KCRG's staff of 21.

It has been noted in other reports that SBG uses smaller news staffs to cover the news than do other stations (see, "Central Casting", PBS News Hour, December 11, 2003; "Anchor feels right at home. Kim Moening helps Channel 64 build a news operation from the ground up", The Cincinnati Enquirer, May 5, 2005, or "Sinclair's Disgrace", Salon.com, Oct 14, 2004). The trend observed with eastern Iowa's Sinclair station appears to be consistent with these observations.


III. C. Increased staff sharing at KGAN

It is perhaps not surprising to eastern Iowans that KGAN shares personnel across SBG stations, as Cedar Rapids and Iowa City viewers can receive broadcasts from two Sinclair-controlled stations that share news personnel. For example, Tiffany O'Donnell, has appeared on all three (KGAN, KFXA, and KDSM) Sinclair stations in Iowa over the entire duration of this personnel monitoring project. Other personnel covering weather and sports have appeared across KGAN and KFXA.

During the aforementioned period of website data collection, the amount of across-station personnel sharing (discussed further, below) increased. Specifically, at the data samples taken on July 16, KGAN shared 3 news-staff persons with Sinclair's Des Moines station (KDSM). In the subsequent samples (at October 5 and November 13), KGAN and KSDM shared 4 persons. In Table 1, the staff members that are shared between KGAN and KDSM are highlighted by italicized text.

Indeed, within this analysis period, the news personnel at KFXA-TV were an exclusive subset of those at KGAN. As of November 13, 2005, the listed KFXA news personnel were Tiffany O'Donnell, Karen Hoskins, Mark Anthony, and Kevin Hall (as listed on the "Our News Team" webpage of KFXA at http://kfxa.tv/news/index.shtml). All four of these KFXA news team members are also listed on KGAN's staff roster. It should be noted that recently, KFXA introduced a "Good Day Iowa" program, which is aired from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. According to the KFXA website, this program has 3 additional on-air persons. However, they are not listed on KFXA's "Our News Team" page).


III. D. Greater staff volatility

The reduction of KGAN staff (from 14 to 12) over the period from April 28 to November 13th tells only a part of the story. There was also a relatively high degree of staff volatility. Over that period, KGAN lost a total of five reporters (Karen Schulte, Dave Benton, Andy Garman, Sarah Reid, and Krista Almanzan), replacing three of their positions with new employees. Thus, by November 13, only 9 of the 14 employees that worked at KGAN in April remained there.

As provided by Table 1, the staff data for KCRG does not cover as large a time period as does the data for KGAN. Thus, for a fair comparison of the degree of "staff volatility" between these two stations, staff listing were compared for a time period (July 16th to November 13th) over which data were available from both stations. Over that period, KGAN lost 3 employees and replace two of their positions with new employees. Over the same time, KCRG lost one employee and hired two new employees.

Greater staff volatility would reasonably be expected to produce several debilitating effects. The news staff would likely be less experienced and also less familiar with the communities, issues, and constituencies. It is also possible that greater volatility could result in relatively poorer morale and within-staff communications.

 

III. E. Reduction in evening news programming

At some point during the summer of 2005, KGAN eliminated its 5:00 p.m. local news program. That is, during the time of a review of KGAN news (the week of April 4, 2005), KGAN had both a 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. local news program, both of half-hour duration. By the time of the last observations made in November 2005, KGAN had eliminated its 5:00 p.m. news program, thus reducing the evening news from two half-hour segments to a single half-hour segment. As of November 23rd, 2005, the other two VHF stations serving this area (KCRG and KWWL) retained both their 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. local news programs.


III. F. Possible sharing of personnel without acknowledgement

Although across-station personnel sharing is obvious from the data in Table 1, KGAN may have engaged in personnel sharing of a more subtle nature.

As detailed in a separate report that is part of this filing, I conducted a detailed analysis of the local news programs of KGAN and KCRG over a period from April 4th to April 8th of 2005. During this 5-day period, I observed a KGAN news report by a person not listed in any of the KGAN personnel lists of Table 1. On its 6 p.m. local news broadcast of Friday, April 8, KGAN aired a report from Living History Farms (near Des Moines) that described an observance in memory of Pope John Paul II's death. This report was filed by Jennifer Mazi, a reporter who is listed with KDSM, Sinclair's Des Moines station (see Table 1).

It is possible that Ms. Mazi was listed by KGAN as a reporter on April 8th and that her name was missing by the time the KGAN website was examined on April 28th. However, according to the biographical sketch provided by KDSM's site, "Jennifer Mazi joined KDSM last year as a reporter." As the KDSM site was examined in 2005, it is concluded that Ms. Mazi was employed at KSDM since 2004. Thus, she was an additional "shared employee" that does not appear in the Table 1 comparison.


References

Letter to David Smith, CEO of Sinclair Broadcast Group

from the Univerity of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication


 

"No more film at 11 as stations cut back. Soft ad market, digital conversion contribute to local news' decline"
by Michael Schneider
Variety.com, Posted Tuesday, January 29, 2002

"Sinclair Takes NewsCentral National"
by Bob Kovacs
www.TVTechnology.com, Posted December 11, 2002
(transcript available at: http://www.tvtechnology.com/features/news/n_Sinclair.shtml)

"On Media Giantism"
by William Safire
The New York Times
January 20, 2003

"Central Casting"
reported by Terence Smith
PBS News Hour, December 11, 2003
(transcript at: www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/media/july-dec03/newscentral_12-11.html)

"In Iraq, going for the upbeat"
by David Folkenflik
Baltimore Sun, February 18, 2004, Section: Today, Page 1E

"Background Report: Sinclair Foreshadows the Death of Local News"
by Paul Schmelzer
The Business Journal, April 30, 2004 (online edition)
(www.business-journal.com/archives/20040430SinclairForeshadowstheDeathofLocalNews.asp)

"Statement of Sinclair Broadcast Group" [on the preemption of Nightline "The Fallen"]
(text available at: http://www.newscentral.tv/station/statement.shtml)
Estimated post time: late April, 2004

"ABC News' Statement" [on the their broadcast of "The Fallen" and prior tributes to 9-11 victims]
(http://www.news-record.com/news/now/abcstatement042904.htm; posted April 29, 2004),

"McCain letter to Sinclair Broadcast on Preemption of Nightline"
by Senator John McCain.
Friday, Apr 30, 2004
(at: http://mccain.senate.gov/index.cfm?fuseaction=NewsCenter.ViewPressRelease&Content_id=1276)

"My Beef With Big Media"
by Ted Turner
The Washington Monthly (July/August 2004 edition)
(available at: http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2004/0407.turner.html)

"News or views?"
reported by Terence Smith
The News Hour, October 12th, 2004
(transcript at: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/media/july-dec04/sinclair_10-12.html)

"Anti-Kerry Film Causes Stir"
by J. Jennings Moss
Fox News, October 13th, 2004
(transcript at: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,135228,00.html)

"Sinclair's disgrace"
By Eric Boehlert, Salon on-line magazine, October 14, 2004
(transcript at: /www.salon.com/news/feature/2004/10/14/sinclair/index.html?sid=1277199)

"Anti-Kerry Film Won't Be Aired"
By Frank Ahrens and Howard Kurtz
Washington Post, Wednesday, October 20, 2004; Page A07
(on-line version at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A46338-2004Oct19.html

"TV stations told to pull plug on anti-Kerry film"
by Mark Memmott
USA TODAY (Print edition: Oct. 20, 2004, Page 4A)

"Sinclair's News Central provides steady diet of pro-Bush, anti-progressive news items." November 18th, 2004. On-line report by Media Matters for America (http://mediamatters.org/items/200411180001)

"More voices, less credibility"
Chapter 3 in Trends 2005
The Pew Research Center
January, 2005
(available online at: http://pewresearch.org/trends/)

"Hyman smeared university professors, including one who regularly refutes 'The Point'"
by Gabe Wildau.
posted on the web on Feb. 17th, 2005.
Media Matters for America (available at: http://mediamatters.org/items/200502180002)

"Beyond 'Fair and Balanced'. Sinclair, the pro-Bush broadcaster, is waging war on the "cheese-eating surrender monkeys"
by Eric Klinenberg
Rolling Stone magazine, February 24, 2005

"Puppet masters"
by Paul Schmelzer
IllinoisTimes, March 10, 2005.
(available at: http://www.illinoistimes.com/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A4052)

"Anchor feels right at home. Kim Moening helps Channel 64 build a news operation from the ground up"
by John Kiesewetter
The Cincinnati Enquirer, May 5, 2005 (http://news.enquirer.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050505/LIFE/505050343)

"Sinclair sues former D.C. bureau chief" by Caryn Tamber, Daily Record Legal Affairs Writer, The Daily Record, Vol 5, Number 396, October 19, 2005 (http://www.mddailyrecord.com/)

"Sinclair sues the reporter who charged right-wing bias a year ago" Nick Madigan, Baltimore Sun, October 20, 2005.

"Post-election Sinclair wins"
by Paul Adams
Baltimore Sun, November 3, 2005
(on-line version available at: http://www.baltimoresun.com/business/bal-bz.sinclair03nov03,1,3711546.story)

"Nielsen Media Research Local Universe Estimates (US)" [Ranking of the 210 Designated Market Areas, based on Nielsen estimates used throughout the 2005-2006 television season.]
(website information, available at: http://www.nielsenmedia.com/DMAs.html was downloaded on November 30, 3005)

"Not Necessarily the News - How Sinclair Broadcast Group bent the rules, bought politicians, and faked the news to become one of the largest independent owners of television stations in America. (And yes, we use the word 'news' very, very loosely)"
By Wil S. Hyton,
GQ magazine, December, 2005
(on-line version: Nov 21, 2005 at: http://men.style.com/gq/features/full?id=content_4024&pageNum=2)

from Sinclair Broadcast Group corporate website
webpage entitled "NEWS" (at http://www.sbgi.net/business/news.shtml, accessed on December 3, 2005)
screen capture available on request. (This citation provides SBG's claim that News Central is designed for markets that could not otherwise support local news).

from Sinclair Broadcast Group corporate website
Statement of Sinclair Broadcast Group [on Sinclair's preemption of the ABC tribute "The Fallen"]
(available at: http://www.newscentral.tv/station/statement.shtml)

Iowans for better local TV